Thursday, January 11, 2018

CAIR's Terror Ties an Issue in San Diego School Lawsuit

Terror ties and "hostility toward Israel" are directly relevant to a civil suit challenging the Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) work with San Diego public schools, plaintiff's attorneys argued in court papers filed Friday.

CAIR helped the San Diego Unified School District develop an anti-bullying program. But five local families and two community groups sued last spring, claiming the program elevated Muslim students above others. The school board agreed to stop working with CAIR in July, acknowledging that CAIR is a religious group and the partnership may cross the line on church-state separation.

The ligation continues, however, and the school board asked the court last month to strike references to CAIR's anti-Israel positions and its connections to Hamas from the case, saying they were irrelevant.

The Anti-Defamation League, which took over the anti-bullying program after the board broke with CAIR last summer, has cited CAIR's "long record of anti-Israel activity," a response filed Friday by the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) said. CAIR and its founders were part of a Hamas-support network in the U.S. during the 1990s, records seized by the FBI show.

The school district knew about CAIR's history before it was sued and had opportunities to disavow the organization, the FCDF response said.

"Contrary to what Defendants would have this Court believe, there is ample evidence demonstrating CAIR's harmful influence within the District, including its manipulation of instructional materials to advance their sectarian agenda," the FCDF wrote.

None of the cases the school district cited to justify removing the references to Israel or extremists "addresses a situation like this one, where a religious organization with an internationally reprehensible reputation functions as the ministerial arm of a government institution," the FCDF said.

Proselytizing is part of CAIR's religious mission, and it has chosen to use public schools as a forum for spreading its religious message under the cover of an anti-bullying program, the FCDF argued.

"Indeed, Nihad Awad, CAIR's National Executive Director, testified that 'informing the American public about the Islamic faith is a religious obligation and educational exercise,'" the FCDF said.


Connecticut parents pull kids from school as Ivanka Trump visits

First daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump made a surprise visit to a Connecticut high school—prompting some parents who oppose President Trump’s agenda to yank their kids from classes Monday.

Trump appeared at the Norwalk Early College Academy to talk to its students about the importance of career education.

“To see the passion and enthusiasm for bringing real life skills into a classroom environment but then coupling it with real life experience through internship creates this really beautiful virtuous angle,” she said, News 12 New Jersey reported.

Parents say they didn’t know that Trump was scheduled to speak to their kids—information they suspect was withheld due to security concerns.

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“This should have been brought to our attention, although I do understand security reasons,” parent Karey Fitzgerald told News 12. “I think we should have had the choice to send our child to school or keep them home.” she added.

Not all parents were opposed to the visit.

Parent Angela Yaneth Guzman replied to a photo from Trump's visit on Facebook, and thanked her for speaking to her son.

"My son Nicolas Guzman is a NECA student and you talked to him today and he's so excited about it. It's something He will never forget. Thank you Ivanka," she wrote.

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Trump was joined by IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, who developed the NECA academic model.

Students at NECA earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in software engineering in four years.


UK: Damian Hinds is new education secretary, replacing Justine Greening

Damian Hinds has been announced as England's education secretary in the prime minister's cabinet reshuffle. He will replace Justine Greening, who is leaving the government.

Ms Greening, the first comprehensive-educated Tory education secretary, refused a switch to the Department for Work and Pensions, the BBC understands.

Mr Hinds, a former DWP minister, went to a Catholic grammar school in Altrincham and then studied at the University of Oxford.

School funding

The MP for East Hampshire is a former chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility.

Mr Hinds wrote on Twitter that he was "looking forward to working with the great teachers and lecturers in our schools, colleges and universities giving people the opportunities to make the most of their lives".

The incoming education secretary will face pressures over school funding and decisions about university tuition fees.

Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union, said he was disappointed to see Ms Greening's departure. "She has tried hard to tackle the school funding crisis, without any help from the chancellor or prime minister," said Mr Barton.

University challenges

The National Association of Head Teachers called for more stability and investment.

"Where budgets are at breaking point and recruitment is still a massive challenge, education does not need more upheaval," said NAHT leader Paul Whiteman.

School funding proved to be an important doorstep issue in the election - and Ms Greening announced that an extra £1.3bn of the education department's budget would be moved to schools.

The new education secretary also faces big decisions over higher education, including the future of tuition fees and university funding.

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised there will be a major review of how students pay for university - after pledges from Labour to young voters that they would scrap tuition fees.

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said Mr Hinds had "assiduously" raised social mobility since becoming an MP in 2010.


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